I’ve been doing the ZipCar Low-Car Diet Challenge for a month now (we’re coming to the end!), and I’ve had a few surprises.
1. I really had no *need* for my car the entire month. In fact, I was trying to come up with reasons to even use a ZipCar. I was able to get everything I needed either by foot, bike, or public transit. Yes, things took longer, but it was actually more enjoyable to not be stressed out driving in the city. I could relax. I was able to see more of the city that way, too, observe my surroundings and see things I may not have noticed before. Yes, being stuck on the bus that’s the proverbial “slow boat to China” on a Friday afternoon was less than ideal, but I just put on my iPod, relaxed, looked out the window, and made mental notes about things I saw that I may want to go back and visit at a later date.
2. It’s forced me to be more relaxed about things. This actually is the opposite of what I expected. I expected to have to plan more strictly. What I found is that while I have to plan ahead, I also have to be more relaxed about the outcome of those plans. Adhering to a strict schedule wasn’t realistic. So it forced me to relax and just be. To just sit and be in the moment while riding the bus/trolley. This is a good thing for me, really.
3. Pooling resources and running errands with friends is much more enjoyable than doing it alone. Getting a few friends together when I actually needed the car was both more economical (theoretically we would have split the cost if it wasn’t for the generous ZipCar credits!) and fun. Made the errands less onerous and gave us an excuse to hang out for awhile. I liked running my errands that way.
4. The concerns I had at the beginning never really became reality. I never “missed” the convenience of using my own car. I never felt restricted or worried that I couldn’t access a vehicle (there were so many available!). Nor did I really miss my personal vehicle. That has really surprised me. For all the time I’ve spent in my reliable Subaru (multiple cross country trips, etc.), I didn’t miss it, or miss driving it, or miss even being in it. I didn’t miss being in a car at all, in fact. I didn’t feel that I had lost that sense of freedom I’ve always associated with a vehicle. If anything, I ended up feeling more free because I didn’t have to worry about all the stuff that comes with just owning a vehicle. And that was the biggest surprise of all.
So now I’m faced with the decision of whether or not to sell my car. And contrary to what I thought at the beginning, I really can let it go and become officially a car-free individual. I don’t feel the attachment to or need for my own personal vehicle anymore. It’s time to move on in life without a car. Of course, whether or not I’m actually successful in selling my car remains to be seen, but that’s another post for a later date.